Google Software great Kelsey Hightower on helping ANZ with apps and preparing for Web3

“Think of when you come to a website and click on a URL, but it says the file is no longer there. It could have been a recipe from a cooking website, or something,” he says.

“With our latest and greatest technology, we could use this web3 idea of ​​giving content an identity and then storing it in a way that it would never be lost. This can be Google Cloud or a home desktop computer.

“We can extend it to simple file sharing, and if the world wants to use these protocols, then why not. Google has always been involved in the development of Internet standards. »

ANZ’s Challenge

When Hightower first met with ANZ in 2018, the bank was still in the early days of adopting agile working methodologies and had yet to formally announce its ANZx Technology Transformation Strategy – a technology transformation program of $400 million announced at the end of 2019, involving a team of 850 people, which should be completed in 2024.

Reflecting on his first encounter with the bank, Hightower said one of the challenges ANZ faced was integrating “former Googlers” and other tech-bred staff with long-term bank employees. , and to develop the skills of older ANZ staff.

This challenge was much like the one the bank faced with its systems – how to retain the stability and knowledge contained in its existing systems, while implementing and developing new systems and products overboard.

The ANZ Plus app, a digital banking app meant to help customers improve their financial well-being, was the first project to come out of ANZx when it launched in March.

The app includes expense and savings analysis features, but it was heavily criticized in its early days because its currently limited functionality means users cannot pay a bill via BPAY, nor do a PayID transfer or set up a recurring transfer. There was also no Android app.

Hightower says the first version of ANZ Plus should be considered a “minimum viable product”.

“The hardest thing about innovation is getting the first version up and running,” he says.

“When the iPhone came out, there was no copy-and-paste. But they had the right foundation, and it allowed them to accelerate to deliver things you wouldn’t have imagined possible.

“[The ANZ team] executed their MVP and implemented a solid release that delivers value today, and then they ask the real questions – what do customers actually want to do? — and then be patient in building that experience, testing it, and shipping it.

Hightower describes the initial build of ANZ Plus as an athlete running a race at the Olympics and winning the gold medal.

“You don’t see all the failures and training that went into it. All you see is the performance,” he says.

“It’s expected to only get better from here, but a lot of work is needed to bring out this MVP. The first is always the hardest. »

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